On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with a bipartisan 363-40 vote and in the Senate by a 90-8 vote. The bill addresses not only immediate public health needs but also the related financial effects. A copy of the law can be found HERE. Key provisions in the legislation include:
- Free testing for coronavirus under health insurance plans with no need for pre-authorization.
- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Provides two weeks of paid leave to employees working for government employers and private employers with fewer than 500 people for certain COVID-19 issues, such as self-isolation due to COVID-19 diagnosis, to obtain a medical diagnosis of suspected COVID-19, or to care for family member. It guarantees 80 hours of paid sick leave for full-time workers; part-time workers will receive a prorated amount. Employees taking leave to take care of another person will receive only two-thirds of their standard pay. This will become effective after the law’s enactment and run through December 31, 2020.
- Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). EFMLEA amends the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees working for government employers and private employers with fewer than 500 people who have been employed for at least 30 days are eligible to receive 12 weeks of leave for qualifying COVID-19 absences. There is a small business exemption to allow the U.S. Secretary of Labor to issue regulations exempting small business with fewer than 50 employees when new requirements would jeopardize the business.
- Employers would receive a refundable tax credit to offset the employer share of Social Security taxes equal to 100 percent of qualified paid sick leave related to the above provisions.
- Additional provisions for populations vulnerable to food insecurity. The Women’s, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program will continue and the “Food Stamps” program will be expanded on a temporary basis to cover both the poor and jobless workers.
- Emergency fund transfers from the Federal government to the State government Unemployment Insurance Funds (UIFs) to address the likely increase in workers filing claims. Specifically, there will be $1 billion for states, including $500 million for administrative costs and $500 million for states that have unemployment rates of at least 10 percent.